From desktop publishing pioneer to metal type enthusiast
I created my first printing template for the brochure of a medium-sized company in 1993. At the time, I was one of the first and always at the forefront of using digital tools. Highly motivated, I started with Photoshop 2.5, Freehand, and Quark XPress – InDesign had not yet been invented, and by using Quark, I was way ahead at the time. In 1993 people were mostly still working with Aldus PageMaker.
My profession took off at a time when the media industry was in complete upheaval. As desktop publishing pioneers, we would walk to the media service provider here on Antwerpener Street to get our drum scan data onto a Kodak photo CD (digital photography still needed more than ten years to be developed). Meanwhile, our bosses back then always scribbled their designs on drawing boards and worked with Lithos.
Self-Portrait I & II | 20 x 30 cm | Pencil, watercolor | 2015
Back then, Neville Brody and David Carson were something like the Andy Warhols of our generation.
I still remember the arrogance with which I looked down at my boss then, who after 30 years of professional experience consistently continued to put Universe, Frutiger, or Futura on paper, while us youngsters used Meta, Scala, or trendy fonts like Trixie (which simulated a broken typewriter) in our layouts. Neville Brody and David Carson were pop stars to us back then – something like the Andy Warhols of our generation.
Today, when I watch “Die Tagesschau vor 20 Jahren” (The News 20 Years Ago), with Meta as the ARD corporate typeface, there is nothing that could look more old-fashioned and outdated to me. On the other hand, Futura or Frutiger, like my boss used back then, are still just as modern as a century ago. I even bought the 1927 Futura in lead type edition on eBay just a few years ago.
Therefore (detail) | 297 x 420 mm | Metal type on handmade paper | 2016
In those days, we read magazines that were essentially aiming at antiquating themselves.
In those days, we read magazines that were essentially aiming at antiquating themselves: The digital avant-garde read WIRED or, in Germany, SCREEN MULTIMEDIA. These magazines featured articles about the future of journalism using digital, personalized media. That sounded tempting to us because, in 1993, the German TV station RTL became the market leader for the first time with its broadcast Tutti Frutti. The same year, the TV station VOX started as a counter project to RTL – a private TV channel for intellectuals. It was there that Max Mohr hosted a nerdy new media program just for us: Canale Grande. VOX only managed to survive (just like our idea of the internet’s future) for a little less than two years and was then taken over by RTL.
Maybe we were just too young to imagine that the consequence of all this would ultimately be media bubbles and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. We also believed that in the future, stories would no longer be told linearly and that interaction opportunities would be an additional enrichment even for music listeners. Sure enough, it would be us shaping the future of media.
Nowadays, I sometimes wonder when it all happened – in any case, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is 13 years younger than me.
At a meeting with the Deutsche Telekom marketing director: Me, my laptop, and a projector.
From 1995 to 2000, I worked for several advertising agencies – to some extent for the who’s who of the German economy. During these years, I got to know DAX companies and their executive staff and attended meetings and presentations from an insider perspective. Until today, agencies like to list their “great references” on their websites. They mention famous names and big brands, all of which only makes you sick once you question them thoroughly and look behind their fancy facades.
Today I am very grateful for being able to enjoy the freedom of not having to work for any of these companies.
From 2000 on, I worked independently in my own design office for 15 years, on average, with two or three employees. For a few years, I published the soul magazine uptown strut, and during this period, I mainly did corporate communication for some medium-sized companies.
Mosob Reloaded | 30 x 30 cm | Linocut on handmade paper | 2020 – Valerie | 21 x 30 cm | DTP and linocut on handmade paper | 2014
The best-crafted advertising in public spaces can be found in Cuba today.
Today I have a rather critical view of the advertising industry. The best-crafted advertising in public spaces can (still) be found in Cuba. It’s a disgrace that Cologne’s cityscape is overloaded with a bombardment of garish, stupid slogans. In direct marketing, agencies are still calculating with a maximum response rate of perhaps 5%. So 95% of the work advertising agencies produce basically goes directly into the trash. And the corresponding consumption of resources adds to the waste. Even early on, I was aware that nobody really needed most of the services and products I was promoting.
In 1993 I was one of the first to create layouts with the computer. Today, almost 30 years later, I like to work with metal typesetting and techniques such as linocut, woodcut, or etchings, but still combine these with digital tools and DTP.
Graphic design can work differently.
A few years ago, I started using my experience as a graphic designer for projects that I found enjoyable and made sense to me. For some time now, I have been in charge of creating the communication media for Cap Anamur / Deutsche Not-Ärzte e.V. an NGO based in the Cologne quarter of Ehrenfeld. Since 2017 I have been one of 15 active members of this aid organization.
At the same time, the idea came up to develop children’s books for kids in Ethiopia with our non-profit association Art of Buna e.V. Together with Ethiopian authors and illustrators, we are developing books in the country’s principal languages.
In 2017 I founded the “Artists for Cap Anamur” initiative.